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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

9/11 - Memories of a Former Foreigner

(I'm "reprinting" my first ever post, lest I one day forget why I wrote it.)


Aloha,


The thing I remember most about 9/11 is how selfish I felt - at the very beginning.

September 11th was supposed to be the day I paid my debts and made some serious money. I clearly remember the last thing I said as my balding head hit the soft pillow on the 10th: "Tomorrow is going to be a great day, man, tomorrow is going to be a great day."

Source: Anthony Grimley
Five months prior to 9/11 and new to California, I had met several fellow Irishmen at a pub or six, which networked into an interview with a starched suit who looked me up and down to see if I could sell gold coins.

"I can sell a Yankees hat in Boston, or a Cowboys jersey in New York, surely I can sell a little coin over the phone?" I said, full of the optimism of the uninformed American sports fan.

My new boss didn't really care. I'd earn a bare stipend for a couple of months, and then work on one hundred percent commission, so no skin off his nose.

They call the big investors "whales," and it took five months of living off credit cards to reel two in. One lived in New York; the other was in Jersey. I arranged great deals with both retired men; deals that culminated on Monday the 10th, and happy as a pig in a blanket, I later went for a few drinks with the boys, having promised my whales that they'd receive the official paperwork via fax before noon EST Tuesday.


That's the only reason I was up at 5:50 a.m. PST, but as soon as I saw the plane hit the second tower just after 6 a.m. my time, I knew the deals were done - and so was I. (I had no clue how bad it would be - did anyone?)

I wallowed in pity for about thirty-five minutes until I heard another plane had crashed into the Pentagon. Driving to work in my new, unpaid-for Mustang, I jumped up as far as my seatbelt would allow, and let out a scream of hurt and anger I hope my ears will never again endure.

As an immigrant with naturalization papers in process, I had no doubt that the attack was on my country (I swore in July 3, 2003,) and my people.

In October 2001, I tried joining the USAF, but the recruiter told me a 19-year-old's pay "ain't going to take care of the credit problems belonging to a 31-year-old."


On 9/11, as always, I'll wear my Liz Claiborne WTC shirt that I bought 'cos the Statue of Liberty looks cool in the forefront (it was 2002 before I "saw" the Twin Towers for the first time.) I will also reflect on how I awoke thinking only about me, but ended the day thinking only about "U.S." and the thousands whose lives had been destroyed by hate and fear.


May the good God bless the souls of all those lost on 9/11, and Lord, please continue to protect those who, with a servant's heart, always run into harms way while we scream to get the hell out of there.



Thomas Foley, 32, Rescue 3, FDNY, died in the collapse of Tower 2, WTC, New York, 9.59 am, 9/11/01. RIP



25 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

How quickly your perspective changed though.
And Amen.

Brinda said...

Thanks for reposting this original. That is one day that is so clear in everyone's memories. I was teaching a college class when someone flung the door open and told us to stop and turn on the television.

Danielle B. said...

We are glad to have you!

I think today puts everything in to prospective.

Kyra Lennon said...

It's amazing how many stories there are to tell about that day. :(

joeh said...

Never Forget

Workingdan said...

My day on 9/11 started out bad and got worse as the day wore on. I might have to write about it.

E.J. Wesley said...

Your thoughts were great (and applicable) then and now, Mark. We are educating a generation of kids (now 11) who have no memory of the events, so recollections like these are becoming more important.

And we're glad to have you! :-)

EJ

Elizabeth Seckman said...

I was stunned that day. Totally stunned. The numbness didn't wear off until I heard a stupid comment on the news (can't remember who) that America's foreign policy was partly to blame. Numb was replaced by anger. Nothing justified that horror. Nothing at all.

Samantha May said...

I was eight at the time, but wouldn't you know I remember EVERYTHING about that day. It's probably the day I remember most in my childhood. Even then I was aware that the world as I knew it had completely changed and my sense of security disappeared just like that.

It's a sad day for us all.

Sheena-kay Graham said...

My friend Zanya-Lee called me that day to tell me to check the news. When I saw the towers. Damn that changed my day. Yes we need to remember 9/11 and all those lost.

Lara Schiffbauer said...

I agree. I think a lot of us woke up thinking about ourselves and went to bed a different nation. Thanks for sharing a great post. :)

Linda Jackson said...

Thank you for sharing your story, Mark. I think most of us probably got up that morning thinking mostly of ourselves but ended the day thinking in terms of "U.S.".

Melissa said...

Thanks for sharing such a touching post.

That day for me was a mixture of best and worst. After staring at screen and watching, live, as the second plane hit, I turned my head to see one of my twins sitting up for the first time. I wanted to be happy for him. I should have been ecstatic, but I was too stunned and sad.

Jeremy Bates said...

Nice to relieve those old posts, especially one like this. I still get angry when I see those planes hit.

Selling gold coins, huh? Wonder how that business is going these days?

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Mark - certainly none of us realised how extraordinarily sad it was going to be for so many ...

Interesting post - and blessings to all families ... cheers Hilary

Lea said...

That day will always be remembered..

loverofwords said...

Thank you for your post, Mark. Our country needs our prayers, especially in light of what happened to our embassies yesterday..

nutschell said...

So many stories of that day. What a lovely post.

Nutschell
www.thewritingnut.com

Nicole said...

Amen. Those moments will forever be crystalized in our minds and hearts. Definitely worth a repost.

Kirsten said...

Thanks for this post.
I still choke up when I think of all the heroes that went back into those towers to save lives.
A sad day for our great country, but one that will hopefully makes us stronger, if only we remember.

Jenny S. Morris said...

Thanks for sharing your experience on that day.

Morgan said...

Heartbreaking, Mark...

Beautiful post... thanks for this...

David P. King said...

Wonderful tribute, sir. I was a college freshman when this happened. Certainly a day I'll never forget.

Kelley Lynn said...

Great story. Thanks for sharing.

cleemckenzie said...

All of our priorities were shuffled on that day, Mark. I'm so glad you posted about the tragedy today, so we could once again set those priorities in their right order and remember people like Thomas Foley.

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